Thank You for Being Late. Quotable quotes from Thomas Friedman

The more I reflect, the more I get out of Tom Friedman’s recent book. Here are a collection of some of my favorite quotes from his book. There are lessons on blogging, adaptability, governance, and the acceleration of Moore’s Law, globalization, and climate change. Also see Goodreads.com, a great place where I’ve collected my own book reviews and shared important quotes from this, and other authors.

Thomas L. Friedman

“This ain’t no cloud, folks! And so, instead of calling this new creative energy source “the cloud,” this book will henceforth use the term that Craig Mundie, the computer designer from Microsoft, once suggested. I will call it “the supernova”—a computational supernova.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“The same thing, notes Brynjolfsson, happened 120 years ago, in the Second Industrial Revolution, when electrification—the supernova of its day—was introduced. Old factories did not just have to be electrified to achieve the productivity boosts; they had to be redesigned, along with all business processes. It took thirty years for one generation of managers and workers to retire and for a new generation to emerge to get the full productivity benefits of that new power source. A December 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute on American industry found a “considerable gap between the most digitized sectors and the rest of the economy over time and [found] that despite a massive rush of adoption, most sectors have barely closed that gap over the past decade … Because the less digitized sectors are some of the largest in terms of GDP contribution and employment, we [found] that the US economy as a whole is only reaching 18 percent of its digital potential … The United States will need to adapt its institutions and training pathways to help workers acquire relevant skills and navigate this period of transition and churn.” The supernova is a new power source, and it will take some time for society to reconfigure itself to absorb its full potential. As that happens, I believe that Brynjolfsson will be proved right and we will start to see the benefits—a broad range of new discoveries around health, learning, urban planning, transportation, innovation, and commerce—that will drive growth. That debate is for economists, though, and beyond the scope of this book, but I will be eager to see how it plays out. What is absolutely clear right now is that while the supernova may not have made our economies measurably more productive yet, it is clearly making all forms of technology, and therefore individuals, companies, ideas, machines, and groups, more powerful—more able to shape the world around them in unprecedented ways with less effort than ever before. If you want to be a maker, a starter-upper, an inventor, or an innovator, this is your time.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“Intel engineers did a rough calculation of what would happen had a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle improved at the same rate as microchips did under Moore’s law. These are the numbers: Today, that Beetle would be able to go about three hundred thousand miles per hour. It would get two million miles per gallon of gas, and it would cost four cents! Intel engineers also estimated that if automobile fuel efficiency improved at the same rate as Moore’s law, you could, roughly speaking, drive a car your whole life on one tank of gasoline.”

Thomas L. Friedman

“All of these are signs “that our societal structures are failing to keep pace with the rate of change,” he said. Everything feels like it’s in constant catch-up mode. What to do? We certainly don’t want to slow down technological progress or abandon regulation. The only adequate response, said Teller, “is that we try to increase our society’s ability to adapt.” That is the only way to release us from the society-wide anxiety around tech. “We can either push back against technological advances,” argued Teller, “or we can acknowledge that humanity has a new challenge: we must rewire our societal tools and institutions so that they will enable us to keep pace.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“We go to school for twelve or more years during our childhoods and early adulthoods, and then we’re done. But when the pace of change gets this fast, the only way to retain a lifelong working capacity is to engage in lifelong learning.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“Teller tells his teams: “I don’t care how much progress you make this month; my job is to cause your rate of improvement to increase—how do we make the same mistake in half the time for half the money?” In sum, said Teller, what we are experiencing today, with shorter and shorter innovation cycles, and less and less time to learn to adapt, “is the difference between a constant state of destabilization versus occasional destabilization.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“Historically, noted James Manyika, one of the authors of the McKinsey report, companies kept their eyes on competitors “who looked like them, were in their sector and in their geography.” Not anymore. Google started as a search engine and is now also becoming a car company and a home energy management system. Apple is a computer manufacturer that is now the biggest music seller and is also going into the car business, but in the meantime, with Apple Pay, it’s also becoming a bank. Amazon, a retailer, came out of nowhere to steal a march on both IBM and HP in cloud computing. Ten years ago neither company would have listed Amazon as a competitor. But Amazon needed more cloud computing power to run its own business and then decided that cloud computing was a business! And now Amazon is also a Hollywood studio.”

 

 

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“But the ancients believed that there was wisdom in patience and that wisdom comes from patience … Patience wasn’t just the absence of speed. It was space for reflection and thought.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“Every computing device today has five basic components: (1) the integrated circuits that do the computing; (2) the memory units that store and retrieve information; (3) the networking systems that enable communications within and across computers; (4) the software applications that enable different computers to perform myriad tasks individually and collectively; and (5) the sensors—cameras and other miniature devices that can detect movement, language, light, heat, moisture, and sound and transform any of them into digitized data that can be mined for insights.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“Looking back on all my interviews for this book, how many times in how many different contexts did I hear about the vital importance of having a caring adult or mentor in every young person’s life? How many times did I hear about the value of having a coach—whether you are applying for a job for the first time at Walmart or running Walmart? How many times did I hear people stressing the importance of self-motivation and practice and taking ownership of your own career or education as the real differentiators for success? How interesting was it to learn that the highest-paying jobs in the future will be stempathy jobs—jobs that combine strong science and technology skills with the ability to empathize with another human being? How ironic was it to learn that something as simple as a chicken coop or the basic planting of trees and gardens could be the most important thing we do to stabilize parts of the World of Disorder? Who ever would have thought it would become a national security and personal security imperative for all of us to scale the Golden Rule further and wider than ever? And who can deny that when individuals get so super-empowered and interdependent at the same time, it becomes more vital than ever to be able to look into the face of your neighbor or the stranger or the refugee or the migrant and see in that person a brother or sister? Who can ignore the fact that the key to Tunisia’s success in the Arab Spring was that it had a little bit more “civil society” than any other Arab country—not cell phones or Facebook friends? How many times and in how many different contexts did people mention to me the word “trust” between two human beings as the true enabler of all good things? And whoever thought that the key to building a healthy community would be a dining room table? That’s why I wasn’t surprised that when I asked Surgeon General Murthy what was the biggest disease in America today, without hesitation he answered: “It’s not cancer. It’s not heart disease. It’s isolation. It is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.” How ironic. We are the most technologically connected generation in human history—and yet more people feel more isolated than ever. This only reinforces Murthy’s earlier point—that the connections that matter most, and are in most short supply today, are the human-to-human ones.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“That is why, I explained to Bojia, as a columnist, “I am either in the heating business or the lighting business.” Every column or blog has to either turn on a lightbulb in your reader’s head—illuminate an issue in a way that will inspire them to look at it anew—or stoke an emotion in your reader’s heart that prompts them to feel or act more intensely or differently about an issue. The ideal column does both.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“column writing is an act of chemistry—precisely because you must conjure it up yourself. A column doesn’t write itself the way a breaking news story does. A column has to be created. This act of chemistry usually involves mixing three basic ingredients: your own values, priorities, and aspirations; how you think the biggest forces, the world’s biggest gears and pulleys, are shaping events; and what you’ve learned about people and culture—how they react or don’t—when the big forces impact them.”

Thomas L. Friedman“Social media is great for collective sharing, but not always so great for collective building. Good for collective destruction, but maybe not so good for collective construction.”

Thomas L. Friedman

“If you want to solve a big problem, you need to go from taking credit, to sharing credit, to multiplying credit. The systems that all work, multiply credit. Multiplying credit is just another way of making everyone in the system feel ownership. And the byproduct is both resilience and propulsion.”

Thomas L. Friedman

“Social media is great for collective sharing, but not always so great for collective building. Good for collective destruction, but maybe not so good for collective construction.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“The rabbi stated: When you look into the face of the person who is beside you, and you can see that person is your brother or your sister, then finally the night has ended, and the day has begun. Hastening that heavenly day, is the moral work of our generation.”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“The political scientist Francis Fukuyama: Social capital is a capability that arises from the prevalence of trust in a society or in certain parts of it. It can be embodied in the smallest social group: a family, as well as the largest of all groups, the nation. And in all the other groups in between. Where trust is prevalent, groups and societies can move and adapt quickly through many informal contracts. By contrast, people who do NOT trust one another will end up cooperating only under a formal system of rules and regulations…”

 

Thomas L. Friedman

“On local city councils being effective: The job of the council is to get together and debate and discuss. But you do it in a way that preserves the relationships so that we can get together next week and do it again.”

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, University of Colorado Health; Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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